There’s one situation that is all too familiar to leaders. Just one key member of your organization departs, and after they leave, you suddenly realize they took a lot of information with them. It wasn’t intentional – but they scooted out the door with knowledge.

Think about all the things that you have stored away in your brain about your job. If you left your current position, would your replacement know how to handle certain situations? 

Enter succession planning, a key pillar for organizational success. But what is succession planning and why is it important?

While changes in personnel happen often – the organization keeps on moving forward, no matter what. In fact,half of employees are looking to leave their current jobs! That means you must prepare now, or face consequences later. 

But succession planning is two-fold, both temporary and permanent. Beyond passing the baton from a former employee to a new one, it also prepares an organization for unexpected outages, transitions, or someone simply going on vacation. If your lead IT manager heads to the beach for a week, do you have a plan in place?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a good answer to this question. As a leader, you’re thinking about all aspects of your organization – from thedigital employee experience tocybersecurity threats. This article will help you understand what departmental succession planning is and why it is important.

Why You Should Care About Succession Planning

The consequences of not being prepared are becoming more expensive than ever, a trend that is likely to continue to grow. Beyond revenue, organizational leaders put in a position to make fast, rushed decisions aren’t a good recipe for success. 

As theHarvard Business Review points out, whether or not a decision is deemed successful can be traced back to how it was originally presented. Set yourself, your organization, and your customers up for the best situation possible by being prepared.

“Don’t put yourself into a position where you have to make hard decisions and spend a lot of time and money figuring out succession planning when you can prepare for it.” 

-Rick Topping, Ceeva’s Vice President of Operations

Reason #1: Business Continuity

First, understand that a sudden departure can absolutely halt your operations. Departmental succession planning keeps the wheels turning – even outside of IT! It’s about having the right people ready to step in and maintain workflow integrity and service quality.

Reason #2: Spend Less Time and Money Figuring This Stuff Out

Beyond a reduction in service quality, unplanned knowledge transfer is costly. Succession planning reduces the time and resources spent in onboarding new talent, aligning them with company processes, and mitigating knowledge gaps.

Reason #3: Peace of Mind

Can you put a price on peace of mind? Knowing there’s a continuity plan for every key role provides stability. It reassures stakeholders, staff, and customers that the organization is resilient and prepared for change. (You’ll sleep better, too.)

5 Actionable Tips to Start Departmental Succession Planning

Some boards of directors and insurance companies are requiring these IT audits and succession plans! That’s why understanding what succession planning is and why it is important is only the first step. Let’s talk about action.

“If you’re not worried about it right now, you need to start thinking about it. If you ignore it, someday you will have a huge problem. It’s never too early to plan for a disaster.”

-Rick Topping, Ceeva’s Vice President of Operations

Tip #1: Learn As Much as You Can About Processes Within Your Organization

Capture policies, software details, logins, and licenses across your organization. You should have a digital library of sorts to know the ins and outs of how your teams work andtheir challenges. And this practice isn’t just for onboarding and information. It’s a cornerstone of a solid cybersecurity foundation.

Tip: Create a centralized digital hub for your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SharePoint is a great choice for the location.

Tip #2: Limit Access to Sensitive Materials

Expanding on the topic of cybersecurity, it’s important to control who has privileged access to different parts of your systems. Much of this information sits in knowledge pools in people’s brains, but IT often holds the keys. To get in front of it, consider engaging with aPittsburgh managed service provider to identify what really needs protection.

Tip #3: Eliminate Single Points of Failure

Similar to data, there’s probably someone within your organization who has a lot of knowledge tucked away in their brain. Ask yourself, “What if this person leaves tomorrow?” There’s always a chance. Act now by documenting their processes, making them repeatable, and ensuring they’re accessible organization-wide.

IT Expert Tip: Do this right away when implementingnew systems or software.

Tip #4: Future Proof Your Organization

Similar to identifying those individuals whose losses would be detrimental, think holistically about your organization. What roles are responsible for what? And when you hire them, are you preparing them for the future? Always consider how today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s resilience. Don’t put your organization in a position where it wished it did something yesterday.

Tip: This may be a good time to do vulnerability assessments, remediate, and document processes.

Tip #5: Outsource Certain Roles

Some roles – like certainIT services or specialized tasks – don’t need in-house redundancy. Outsourcing to a provider can provide a built-in succession plan. But when considering this approach, view them beyond just filling a role. Instead, think of your outsourced provider as a strategic partner for your organizational success. They should be as invested in your success as you are.

Don’t Wait to Prepare Your Organization

So, what is succession planning and why is it important? As a recap, departmental succession planning is a business strategy as much as it is a mental relief for leaders. Someone going on vacation shouldn’t be a business continuity risk. That’s unfair to the employee and the organization at large. 

Think of succession planning similar to fire drills. If there’s an unexpected disaster, you know you’re ready and your people will be safe. 

The right planning means actively shaping your organization to be resilient, adaptable, and ready for whatever the future holds. Our local Pittsburghmanaged IT services can streamline yoursuccession planning with IT and beyond. With our expert team, we’re ready to safeguard your business operations and your business’s future. 

Learn more aboutthe Ceeva way and how we can help you today.

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